My first article in almost over 1 year!! I am sorry I haven’t been able to provide any content in the previous months. Between having a jam-packed schedule starting a new job and trying to squeeze in my weekly workouts, It was almost impossible. However, with the recent news and what is happening lately and most people stuck in quarantine, I thought it’s time to start writing again so maybe I can be of help to some of you guys.
With the spread of the coronavirus across the world, most gyms all over the world are closed off. and even if some of them are still open, it is definitely not safe to work out at a public place under these conditions.
Because of this most of us will be forced to train at home, at least for the time being. First of all, I want to emphasize that missing the gym 2 or 3 weeks will not make you lose all of your hard-earned muscles, neither it will make you fat(it can if you get sloppy with your diet). But, since it looks like this pandemic is going to last for quite a while let’s take a look at what we can do to maintain our shapes or even improve it.
Losing Fat While In Quarantine
In this article, I will mainly focus on people aiming to lose fat and in the next article I will discuss some strategies for maintaining or even gaining some muscle mass.
As we all know losing fat is accomplished by creating a calorie deficit. We can create this deficit either by exercise, mainly cardiovascular exercise or by eating less.
Short of using the cardio equipment at the gym, or being forced to stay at home aka no walking or jogging outside is allowed, cardio is not really a useful option for most people so we should focus more on our diets around this time.
What should you do with your diet will mainly depend on where are you at and your current shape. So let’s take a look at the two possible scenarios:
1-Already Lean/Been dieting for a while
If you are someone in the 10-15% range and you have been dieting strictly for more than 8 weeks I would highly recommend eating at maintenance calories for 2-4 weeks. This way you will be able to use this period to your advantage to reverse some of the metabolic adaptations to diet. These adaptations include a decreased thyroid levels, high cortisol, elevated hunger signals, bad sleep quality and so on.
Note: Long diet breaks (longer than 7 days) are superior to single day refeeds or worse cheat meals when it comes to restoring the metabolism and reversing metabolic adaptations to diet.
Taking this break will allow you to lose fat faster after you resume your diet. Heck, may even help you regain some of the muscle you lost during your cut.
One point I want to make it clear here is that you should eat at maintenance. Do not gorge yourself in a food buffet every night. A 5-10% calorie surplus over maintenance is usually ok. But, more than that and you will start to regain fat rapidly. This is especially true now that you may not be able to fully stimulate your muscles and create a muscle-building environment training at home.
Calculating Maintenance Calories
Now a lot of you may be wondering, how the hell I am supposed to find my maintenance calories. Well, one option is using online TDEE calculators. I personally think they tend to overestimate people’s TDEE. So I personally like to shoot for the lower end to be on the safe side. Usually, a good starting point is to multiply your lean body mass (LBM) by 15.
Lean Body Mass= Bodyweight-(Bodyweight*Bodyfat/100)
Maintenance Calories= Lean Body Mass in lbs*15
So, if someone is 180 lbs at 12% bodyfat. Their lean body mass will be:
LBM=180-(180*12/100)= 158.4 lbs
Maintenance Calories= 158.4*15= 2375 Kcal
Now that may seem low but it is a good starting point. Also, you can increase the calories by 5% each week.
Now, let’s move on to the second category, which is the least fortunate one.
2-A little bit chubby
This is basically everyone above 15% bodyfat. At that level of leanness, a diet break may do more harm than good. It is very easy to gain fat here since your body is not very depleted yet. Also, hunger levels should be manageable.
So what I would recommend is that you continue to lose weight with some slight changes to your diet and activity. First of all, please don’t go crazy on home HIIT and interval workout. They will impair your recovery and increase your Cortisol levels and general fatigue significantly.
So, what should we do? I think the best bet would be is to cut your current calorie intake to lose fat by 10%. You can reduce that from either carbohydrates intake or fat intake depending on your preferences. After you do that, try to increase your step count thourought the day. That will help you make up for the calories you used to burn during your cardio sessions.
So for example, if you have been eating 2000 calories to lose weight and weight training 5 times a week with 30 min of cardio post-workout. You should reduce your calories to 1800 and train your whole body 3 times a week. Now, usually a 30 min cardio session will burn from 200-350 calories depending on the intensity. So, 5*200-350 = 1000-1750 fewer calories burned thourought the week.
To account for that, you need to increase your step count by approximately 20000-35000 steps per week or 2860-5000 steps per day. You can easily do that by doing household chores and other activities around the house.
Doing this will allow you to keep losing weight at about the same rate as you are used to before this pandemic. But, you may still face some strikes of hunger that’s normal with all diets and it shouldn’t be a problem.
And that’s it for fat loss nutrition during the quarantine and how you can keep progressing toward your goals during these difficult times. In the next segment, we will discuss muscle building so stay tuned. Until that time please take care of yourself and your loved ones and stay safe!